The Baga Movie Magic By Jonathan By Timi Frank


It was long expected. Many Nigerians had given up hope. They believed and rightly so that they were unfortunately saddled with an armchair C-in-C. But alas, he awoke from his inertia too late. President Goodluck Jonathan visited Mubi in Adamawa State and Baga in Borno State last week. I really commend his new found courage. A courage that had eluded him for so long since the insurgency in the Northeast and terrorist activities in other parts of the country started and reached deafening crescendo in the last six years. Even though he attempted to prove his manliness for once, his attempt remind us of the many towns he ought to have visited which he did not do because he found it only worth his while to stop by in two beleaguered towns out of the plenitude that have been reduced to rubble and parched earth by the insurgents. I really wanted to know what provoked the showmanship and of course, I recalled that his government had committed itself to flush out insurgents from the Northeast in a six-week-wonder-war. We are told that a six-week onslaught can wipe out the unpardonable lacklustre dealings of his government in six years, six years of utter shame.

Nigerians have always known that we have a super and superior military. Our military have often performed miracles both within and outside these shores. The victorious engagement of our military is known across the world. Therefore, we were surprised when they were being portrayed as a mutinous and deserter inclined force. But we had always known that the military was never really permitted to engage the insurgents. They were never given what they needed to fight and defeat the insurgents. Rather than fight, they were made to defend and repel which is a disastrous military strategy. We have seen our military’s adrenaline surge. In just two weeks following the forced postponement of the February elections they have reportedly reclaimed a few towns that had been annexed by the insurgents.

Jonathan had no choice but to unleash the military to do their duty. Apparently faced with massive imminent rejection by Nigerians, the scales suddenly fell off his eyes and for once he wanted to demonstrate that the Northeast is part and parcel of the country he was elected to administer. It is not the hotbed of opposition to be left to suffer in the hands of religious bigots who have elected to turn civilization upside down. To show that our military is ever ready when given the right command and equipment to prosecute the insurgency war a semblance of normalcy is said to have returned to some towns that had been in turmoil. Within two weeks they are said to have driven out the marauders from occupied territories thereby paving the way for the hitherto reluctant President to have access to Mubi and Baga.

But Nigerians are not deceived. The military can do better, they are saying even as they cautiously acknowledge the sudden burst of fighting zest by the military. The reported successes in the last two weeks can only but show that the military could have long vanquished the misbegotten zealots if they had been given the required military motivation to do their job.

Our President seeks convenience when it comes to providing security for the people. He weighs his options carefully and considers first his personal gain. This time he is goading the military into battle in the Northeast, peradventure to get the long abused and neglected people across the country to vote for him on March 28. He wants to eat his cake and have it. Why did he not order the tanks to be rolled out when the Chibok girls were kidnapped on April 14, last year. To underscore the point that his election is the only thing that matters, on April 15, 2014, he unabashedly abandoned a nation in grief and anguish due to the first Nyanyan bomb blast and the unfortunate hauling into Boko Haram’s captivity of over 200 school girls. He staged a dance rally in Kano meant to woo and welcome ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, now Minister of Education into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The Azonto dance in Kano marked the high point of his lacklustre approach to monumental calamities in this country. His ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude is a trillion miles behind leadership example being set by his contemporaries in other lands. For instance, in 2012, after a lone shooter killed 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, President Barack Obama visited the school less than 48 hours after the shooting. Similarly, after the train bombing in Volgograd in the North Caucasus of Russia, President Vladimir Putin rushed to the scene to commiserate with the victims of the blast. More recently, President Barack Obama paid a surprise visit to American troops in Afghanistan.

Baga and Mubi are not the only ravaged parts of the Northest. Buni Yadi, Gujba, Chibok, Gwoza are areas where the insurgents have seized hope and crippled the people. Why has the President not been able to restore hope and life in these towns? The 219 Chibok girls have spent 323 days in Boko Haram’s den with dim hope that they will ever be liberated and united with their families.

All the criss-crossing by Mr. President is nothing but cosmetics. They are merely to ensure that he wins the up-coming elections. His visits to traditional rulers and attending youth entertainment programmes are all facade to conceal his failure to adequately develop the country, industrialise the country and build infrastructure. Today he is hurling money around to buy the people’s vote. But Nigerians are not deceived because they are ever poised for change.

Come to think of it, we have been told that the Governor of the Central Bank has taken out $2billion from the nation’s foreign reserve to defend the naira in just two months after he devalued the naira from N155 to N168 to a dollar and raised interest rate to 13 per cent. Looking at the records of the CBN, it has now spent about $2billion defending the naira since it was devalued. According to data from the CBN, as at November 26th just a day after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, it had about $36.9billion in external reserves. The data further revealed that as at December 23rd the reserves had dropped to $34.8 billion representing a $2billion decline. Meanwhile the naira continued on a free-fall prompting the CBN to tactically devalue the naira from N168 to N199 to the dollar. This grand deception was couched in bogus official jargon in the name of closure of its twice weekly retail Dutch Auction System (RDAS). What the CBN and Mr. President fail to tell Nigerians is that the cost of currency devaluation is hitting hard on the few ailing companies, who in turn pass the buck to the average Nigerian. Most companies are bound to fold up in the face of the harsh economic measure while the few that may survive will have no choice but to throw out workers to save cost.

Elsewhere, Mr. President said he has constituted a board to provide two million jobs yearly. This is another deception. You don’t need a board to create jobs. What you need is growing industrialisation and the industries would naturally absorb the unemployed. Sad that the President’s model of employment is the Sure-P model where they employ women to sweep the roads and men to cut grass. This cannot take us any where and Mr. President knows it. The CBN and the Jonathan’s administration know that a thousand devalaution would not save the economy. The only antidote is to be productive – an area the 16 years of PDP’s misrule has not helped a bit. We need to go back to full scale industrialisation to enable the country export more than it imports and that is the change in the offing for the people on March 28.

Again the fuel queues are back – a direct function of the further devaluation of the naira by the CBN. Major oil marketers insist that the further devaluation of the naira had imposed extra burden on their capacity to finance further fuel importation. The further devaluation of the naira they say resulted in a $31 price difference. The Executive Secretary of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Thomas Olawore, argued that the difference between $155 and $168 as well as between $168 and $199, had accumulated to about N100billion, an amount he said they could not afford. This is Jonathan’s much avowed economic wizardry but in essence they are tissues of lies as evidenced in the sudden fuel scarcity. The fact that the nation is again in a blackout show that this government is hard at hearing. The marketers want the fuel price to be taken far above N97 and the government is set to grant their wishes immediately after elections. Nigerians must stop this evil plot with their votes.

Notwithstanding the cacophony of trumpeted lies as to the commitment of the Jonathan’s government to increased access to education in Nigeria, the truth is that they are doing all they can to deny people access to education which in the yet-to-be signed amended constitution ought to be free from primary to secondary levels. They want to discourage government’s intervention in education so that their commercial interests in private schools can thrive.

In 1948, Alan Paton’s heart wrenching novel, Cry, the Beloved Country, chronicled in a fictional manner, the evils of racism and injustice in South Africa. Then Paton, in his literary mind’s eyes saw a land that was gorgeous and fruitful, but which had started to sicken. Thanks to too many cattle and too much farming for grain, the ground grew barren and unproductive. More and more people left their farms to find whatever work they can in the cities. And sadly, once they left their hometowns, they usually did not return. Their people back in the villages would stop hearing from them. The land became morally sick.

Just like South Africa under apartheid, Nigeria is both physically and morally sick today. She requires a good dose of good governance to regain her strength and lost glory. The demons of stealing and corruption have invaded the land. Today we are ruled by “VIPs” which Fela aptly defined as “Vagabonds In Power.” Yes, ‘ole is ole’. Today we are ruled by great and abjectly hollow politicians whose idea about politics is to talk big about better days for the people, security, jobs and better living for all, but what they really care about is their own power and how to cling to power. They give rousing speeches because they want to do whatever they chose without recourse to the constitution which is the grundnorm of the land. Their greed and selfishness dictate their tardy and unworkable programmes. Jonathan’s recent effort to ingratiate himself with the populace is nothing but movie magic. It will stop as soon as the elections are over.